“Relax, this won’t hurt a bit.”
“Are you sure doc? That’s what she said and look at me, sitting here, looking at you, paying top dollar to become human again.”
“Come on now, are you gonna keep making excuses?”
The doc strapped the young man onto the chair and placed a black handkerchief over his eyes, blinding him.
“You might feel a tingling sensation, but don’t fret, its nothing major.”
The doc reached over and grabbed the heavy electrical conduit from the table and inserted the prongs into the young man’s neck receptacle. Once the young man connected to the device, a tingling, numbing sensation spread out downwards from his neck to his lower body, placing his consciousness into a virtual environment carefully manipulated by the program.
The young man found himself inside the program projected into a three dimensional digital room, sitting on a floating chair. He looked around astonished at how realistic it all seemed. He was stunned by the huge advances in technology humanity had acquired. Being integrated into a digital program had been only a dream for many a few years back; and now that MirkTek promised such revolutionary equipment, everyone was willing to give it a shot.
“Hello Mark,” a virtual female robot welcomed him.
“Oh, hello there.”
“Welcome to Mirktek’s revolutionary AI Program IEP. I am Kalina, and I will be assisting you in your proselytization.”
“Ah yes, yes. How does this work?”
“First, you will be given a brief introduction on how everything works and once you are ready to begin the process you will need to go through the door behind me. From there on, you will be on your own, and everything you interact with will help guide you on your journey.”
“Don’t worry, everything is just a virtual reconstruct of your memories. Looking at your chart I can see that you want to erase some childhood fears and memories; do you have any idea of what you wish to replace them with?”
“Not really. I’m still unsure of how this works.”
“You will relive that scenario of your life again and depending on how you react to it, everything will change, and once you are done with it that will be your newly crafted reality.”
“Okay, I think I understand now. I am ready.”
“Please proceed through the door.”
The doc and engineers were constantly monitoring the program to make sure everything was going to plan. On the computer screen, they could clearly see a visualization of what was taking place like a virtual 3d reconfiguration. The conversation between Mark and the AI bots were being recording in a log file.
“Is everything ready?” the doc asked one of the engineers.
“Yes sir. We have already made back up of his memory and have finished gathering the information needed for the simulation.”
“Was he informed that the program was still in beta?” the other engineer asked.
“No. He has no idea of that. Let’s just not make any mistakes we might later regret.”
Mark got up from the chair and tried walking. At first, it seemed kind of odd knowing that he was fully integrated within the system, but without having any of his other physical senses intact. It took him a few second to learn how to walk within the simulation and make his way towards the door. He approached it. The doors slid open, granting him access.
Before he took a step forward the program bleeped like a glitch.
“What was that?” the doc asked the engineers.
“We don’t know yet. Something made the program glitch. Hold on.”
“Steve, we have a problem,” the other engineer muttered to his partner, pointing at the log.
“What…what’s wrong?” the doc asked, worried they might lose Mark.
“We’re being hacked.”
“What do you mean we’re being hacked? The program was supposed to be running independently of any server.”
“Is that what they told you? No, the big executive heads wanted the program live and ready for broadcast all over the world. We told them of the risks of being hacked or anything going awry since it’s only in beta.”
“I’m going to pull him out!” the doc yelled, reaching for the conduit.
“You can’t do that. You will kill him!”
The doc nodded in frustration, feeling hopeless of not being able to do anything. Once inside the program, Mark was susceptible of never coming back. If anything went wrong he might just be there forever, living in a virtual environment for eternity while his meat suit simply rotted and decomposed in the real life.
Mark didn’t feel the glitch entirely. He felt a bit odd because he knew he had made a step forward, but was quickly brought back as if he was backtracking his steps. He turned around and faced Kalina.
“Kalina there is something wrong.”
“Indee…ee…eed” she stammered.
He kept looking at her as scrambled, distorted messages came out of her. Her head bounced a few times from side to side as if something was wrong before coming to a complete stop, rendering her immobile. He knew something was wrong at that point, but there wasn’t much he could do, so he jumped into the unknown.
The doc stared at the screen and kept trying to override the program to no avail. The system was completely unresponsive except for the flickering of the screen over and over until eventually turning black. The screened on again, but this time, displaying the words MLF.
“It’s the MLF. They are responsible for this?”
“But why?” the other scientist replied as he too looked at the screen.
You are all responsible for foiling the population with your mind control tactics. We will liberate the world. All of your fears will become real…
The scientists felt a sharp cold tingling sensation run all over their skin.
What fears are they talking about? What do they mean? Dammit, I hope he comes out okay.
They just sat down and waited for everything to blow over as the whole world watched live. The top executives quickly sent in a special team of their own in order to recover the system. At first the scientists were shocked when they busted the door open and men dressed in black military gear rushed in, but after they cuffed them and pointed their rifles to the scientists’ heads, they feared for their lives.
A cell phone went off. One of the mercs reached into his vest’s pocket, pulled it out and answered it.
“Boss. We have minimized the damage. We are about to execute ARM and recover anything of what is left of the program. What about the man?”
“Okay, sure thing,” he responded before putting his cell phone back into his pocket. He went back towards the other men who were connecting the system to a portable device. “Recover whatever possible and disconnect the machine.”
“You can’t do that, you’ll kill him!” Steve’s partner launched himself towards the men in a vague attempt to stop them, but was greeted by the pistol of the man in charge.
He pulled the trigger, dropping the scientist dead on the ground. The loud bang startled Steve, but he didn’t try to struggle.
“Don’t become a casualty,” the man whispered as he lowered down to Steve, kneeling down with his hands cuffed behind his back.”
“No sir…” he stammered.
“Do you know what happened here?”
“No. All I know is that we are being hacked by the MLF.”
“Silly, you had no idea that your partner was involved in this. He sold you out and your project.”
Steve stood there motionless as he tried to make sense of what he had just said. He realized that there was something fishy about how his partner was allowed access to his project even when he did not have the clearance for it. There was much that he didn’t know, and right there and then, he was probably gonna find out really soon what everything was about. However, he still worried about Mark. He had nothing to do with what was going on. He was just collateral damage.
“Okay sir. We were able to get most of the data. Do you want us to unplug it now?”
“Yes, go ahead.”
Right before the merc reached for the conduit, Mark let out a gasp for air and looked straight up at the ceiling.
“What do we do with him sir?”
“He’s just collateral, do what you have to,” the merc responded as he grabbed the portable device and made his way towards the door.
Defying all physics and logic, Mark spurted on his two feet and rushed towards the mercs. Without even blinking he side swept one, grabbing his side pistol before he fell to the ground. He popped two rounds in his chest and right away pointed at the other two men.
The shots rang out, ending their life within seconds. Through the sound of all the commotion the remaining merc turned around slightly and reached for his gun. He was too slow. Everything was taking place so fast that his mind wasn’t able to coordinate with his hands and his gun had barely made it out of the holster before he felt the hot, burning pain inside his chest.
“Mark what is going on?” Steve shouted.
“We need to get out of here. Mirtek is no what you thought it was doc.”
“What do you mean?” he responded. Mark set him loose from the cuffs right away and helped him get up on his two feet.
“I’ll tell you everything later, we need to move!”